FELDENKRAIS METHOD ®

A system of movement education for wellbeing that teaches you how to help yourself, eliminating pain, tension, and stress, improving posture, increasing creativity and stimulating the brain.

The Feldenkrais Method

The Feldenkrais® Method is a system for understanding and learning how to make full use of our resources through movement. The goals of the method are to improve awareness and sensitivity, expand the repertoire of movement, and reduce energy expenditure by improving the effectiveness of our actions. It is not an exercise in itself but a system that improves any form of exercise, making it easier, more effective, and pleasant. For those who already have a high level of performance, it helps bring out the best of their abilities. Everything we do requires movement, including sitting, talking, and breathing. If you watch children playing or rolling in the grass, you remember nostalgically the time when your movement was so free and effortless.

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Our movements and posture may be compromised by lack of effort and by stresses that we often don’t notice. Some of us have chronic problems that affect our health and ability. Many people don’t think about their bodies until they experience pain or some kind of problem. This system of education stimulates development and encourages people of any age or physical condition to learn a more efficient way of moving that reconnects them to their natural ability, using an exploratory process of learning similar to that of children.

What’s different about the Feldenkrais® method

The Feldenkrais® method shows us how to learn from our bodies. You are not dependent on the teacher or a specific program, but rather are taught how to take care of and improve yourself. In fact, when we help ourselves, the results are more than mere remedies. We begin a continuous process of change, leaving behind bad habits (eg. holding your breath, contracting the jaw muscles, tightening the neck muscles, increasing back problems) and replacing them with better ones. The goal is to improve the aging process of the nervous system, exploring the muscular system in its entirety, and stimulating in particular the functioning of muscles that we rarely use in daily or athletic activities, thereby activating circuits that were previously inactive. This has been confirmed by renowned neurophysiologists like K. Pribram, O. Sacks, and G.M. Eldelman.

This method doesn’t require weeks or months to see results. Changes can be seen after or even during the first session.  It is not an exercise in itself but a system that improves any form of exercise, making it easier, more effective, and pleasant. For those who already have a high level of performance, it helps bring out the best of their abilities.
 

Who is the Feldenkrais® method for?

For anyone who wants to improve their their self-awareness, their understanding of the body, to increase their degree of movement and expression, and to reduce the stress of daily activity.

For those who have to deal with stressful or physically constraining situations on a daily basis (managers, sedentary workers, academics, and others).

For the elderly: As Feldenkrais said in a speech, “Old age…begins with the self-imposed restrictions on forming new body patterns. First, one selects attitudes and postures to fit an assumed dignity and so rejects certain actions, such as sitting on the floor or jumping, which then soon become impossible to perform. The resumption and reintegration of even these simple actions has a marked rejuvenating effect not only on the mechanics of the body, but on the personality as a whole.”

With children we can work on the phases of motor development to provide a more harmonious maturation process.

For people suffering from chronic back pain, neck problems, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or chronic headaches. Often, pain begins to pass within a short period, since many of these conditions are caused by poor use of the body to begin with.

For those who need to rehabilitate the body following a traumatic accident or chronic disability, for which, in addition to regular care, it can be important to identify the most efficient movements to focus on while regaining strength.

For people suffering from neuro-muscular or motor functioning problems, such as stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or spasticity. The Feldenkrais approach to the rehabilitation of movement can be seen as a process of psychosomatic relearning based on the plasticity of the brain. In psychology and psychiatry it can provide support to the therapeutic process. A number of psychiatrists have approached the method to provide a new perspective in diagnosis, considering the close connection between mind and body. Some see a connection between this method and the work of Milton Ericson.

For those who want to develop and improve their physical and artistic performance, such as athletes, dancers, actors, musicians, and singers. Often people in these professions suffer from blockages and tensions that can decrease their performance abilities.

The purpose of Feldenkrais®

The method aims to provide increased awareness and creativity of movement, thereby promoting the elimination of blocks, thoughtless patterns of movement, psychological tensions, and physical pain. As Moshe Feldenkrais stated, “the aim is a body organized to move itself with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength but by improving awareness of how it works…. We do not care if people move with more force, but with more intelligence.”

The physical and mental benefits of Feldenkrais®

By improving flexibility and efficiency of movement, the method improves posture and breathing, and reduces pain and muscular tension, freeing us from the habits that limit us. It can also help expand our potential in other ways, particularly with creativity and problem solving.

The Feldenkrais® Method is taught in two ways: individual or group lessons?

“Awareness Through Movement”®: Group Lessons

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The instructor leads the group verbally through a sequence of movements covering the basic positions: sitting, lying down, etc. Emphasis is placed on learning the best movements and on noting the quality of changes that take place in the body. We pay attention to the form of movement, not the number of repetitions. As a result, we learn to relax, to abandon bad habits, and to build new ones. These subtle movements also improve flexibility and coordination in addition to awareness. Often after these lessons you feel taller, lighter, and relaxed. You breathe more freely, move more easily, and experience less pain. In the end, the lessons are integrated and remain a part of your daily life.

“FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION”® : INDIVIDUAL LESSONS

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Individual lessons are the most direct way to experience results with the Feldenkrais® Method. The instructor’s hands guide the person directly while lying or sitting down in comfortable clothing, guiding them through the postures to gradually learn new modes of movement that are adapted to meet their specific needs. Ultimately, “ the object of our work is to make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy elegant” (Moshe Feldenkrais). Being led through these series of movements relaxes areas of tension and alters bad habits by sending new information directly to the neuromuscular system. Functional Integration is useful for everyone, including those who have difficulty participating in group lessons, those who want to see faster improvements, and especially for those who want to learn how to overcome the limitations imposed by stress, bad habits, accidents, or disease. It can also provide great results for those who simply want to improve their overall performance or their physical and mental wellbeing.

The method’s founder, Moshe Feldenkrais

MOSHE FELDEN

“I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think; at least, the continuing of mental functions is assured by corresponding motor functions.”

Born in Slavuta (in modern-day Ukraine) in 1904, he left his family home for Palestine at age thirteen, where he worked as a pioneer, building roads and houses, and learning martial arts for self-defense. He resumed his studies as an adult in Paris in 1928, where he earned a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering, followed by a doctorate in physics at the Sorbonne and a research collaboration with Frèdèric Joliot-Curie.

Becoming a student of Jigoro Kano, he earned a black belt in Judo and founded the first Judo club in France. During the German invasion of Paris in 1940 he fled to England where he conducted research for the British military. Following the war he returned to Israel, where he become the first Director of the Electronic Department of the Israeli Defense Forces.

After a knee injury caused him great difficulty in 1949, he brought together his scientific knowledge and background in martial arts to develop a practical method of bodywork, which he expounded in his revolutionary book Body and Mature Behavior.

His views on anxiety, depression, and the importance of the vestibular branch of the eighth cranial nerve have become universally recognized and accepted. After years of practical work on thousands of people, he devoted himself to teaching the method in Europe, the United States, and Israel.

Among his students were David Ben Gurion, Margaret Mead, Peter Brook, Yehudi Menuhin, Leonard Bernstein, and Moshe Dayan. He died in Israel in 1984.

From Frank Wildman, Ph.D., teacher of Feldenkrais in the United States:

The Feldenkrais® Method offers a complete application of current models of dynamic systems’ approaches to motor learning and motor control. In the Awareness Through Movement® lessons, the student recreates the childhood experience of learning to organize and control all movements of the body, including all aspects of interaction with the environment and those needed to move within it. The method provides an innovative and exciting program of movement that can quickly improve the ease of mobility, flexibility, relaxation, and posture in a way unlike any other forms of conventional exercise. The Awareness Through Movement® lessons are an excellent course of studies that help focus our sensitivity on the ways we move. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais created a process that develops our attention on how we move, a rare and necessary element in the process of growth and change. The Awareness Through Movement® lessons begin with the premise that correct movement is that which is performed with minimal effort, and that many people have learned to move improperly, using more force than necessary. The lessons are therefore designed to bring awareness to the way our bad habits lead to stress, thereby freeing our patterns of movement from antagonistic and parasitic actions.